From Prague (which was an amazing, wonderful show) up through Poland we have wandered, and now I write from Copenhagen Airport, en route to Aarhus, Denmark. I had a day off yesterday, and spent it, with some friends, visiting the camp museum at Auschwitz Birkenau.
I’ve long nerded out about the history of Central and Eastern Europe; I read Hilberg and Gilbert when I was younger, and I have recently been devastated by Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands”. Even so, I’d never visited one of the camps before, and so when the opportunity to got o Auschwitz came up, I thought it was important for me to go, to be humble, to learn.
I don’t want to write a long post about the place; others have written much more eloquently than I ever will about the experience. I had one thought that I wanted to share. At one point I was in the area where they unloaded the cattle trucks and made the selections, a long dusty railway siding. There’s a solitary train car there now (not an original, as it goes; it was paid for by an Australian Holocaust survivor to commemorate his parents). As we were there, a group of Israeli school kids were hanging around, playing pranks, chatting, on their phones, generally being irreverent and not paying much attention to their impatient teacher. My initial reaction was mild horror at their open lack of respect for the place we were in. But then it occurred to me that a class of free, happy, vivacious young Jews enjoying themselves was the most wonderful sight to see in that godforsaken place.
It felt like a victory of sorts. I left there feeling weirdly optimistic. If you get a chance, you should go.
I hope I can go one day… until then, I live vicariously through you!
My mom was a US army nurse attached to the corps that liberated the Ebensee camp in Austria. I have some photos she took of the immediate aftermath that are indescribable.
What a great way to feel in a place that is inherently a sad indictment of human nature. It has long been on my bucket list to go there.
I have been there few years ago and not for the last time for sure; I would make it obligatory for everyone too see and feel a bit of what happened quite recently..and to realize that our lives are not that difficult as they seem.. How was the weather? I heard that its all the time foggy and strange..
And btw.. The show was the the best!!! Incredible atmospere, as usual 🙂 moreover, some unknown guys made me crowd surfing and it was just amazing! So thank you!
This morning when I saw fb i had a message of a boy who had been in some of your concerts these days…I asked ‘what about the concerts’ days ago and he said that you called him to the stage for crow surfing recently haha! I thought it was so fun because I was not there and when he said I could imagine haha!
About the visit, it is very interesting…and I think there are some places that…should make us think in the past, in the present, in life.. and can give us a lesson of knowledge…and learn…in this case about the errors of the past…
I have never been there, nice you share this…
Thinking about the image you explained (kids, the place..) I can imagine…For me is like the horror of the past sorounded with the present happiness…these places make us think…
Thanks for sharing…
Eloquent as ever with an interesting point of view – that’s our Frank! Great observations on Auschwitz! “But then it occurred to me that a class of free, happy, vivacious young Jews enjoying themselves was the most wonderful sight to see in that godforsaken place.” LOVE this quote!